Category Archives:Whisky for Girls

Sep. 11.

Some Introductory Drams….


However, Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) were asked to make a list of drams which may temp a person who is unfamiliar with a dram into partaking……. so here goes…

1: Islay Barley 2009 from Bruichladdich ~ Barley from Claggan, Cruach, Island & Mulindry Farms make this dram.

Sparkling gold, only been in a Bourbon casks, which means you think of vanilla, honey and toffee notes. But also, from the Bruichladdich character you get a creaminess in the feel of the liquid in the mouth. It’s musty, dusty – wet barley smell – not cereal, but fresh, wet barley. Hint of ozone, sea, warm yet ethereal. Mushrooms, sunny, honey, alive, zesty – yet lazy. Not a sharp zing of a dram. Lovely lingering feeling in the chest. A well balanced whisky. £45 approx.

2: Bunnahabhain 18 YO ~ Totally different whisky to Bruichladdich. Again upeated whisky, but sticky, rich, thick, raisins, honey, nuts, sweet, beautiful. Like the nicest Christmas cake you have ever tasted, in liquid form. The Bunnahabhain 12 YO is nice too, but it has a slight edge. The 18 is like Mother’s milk! It will curl over your tongue by itself. £70 approx.

3: Laphroaig Select ~ This dram was made as an introductory level whisky to Laphroaig. And it works perfectly. It works as a lovely dram in itself. It is not like a watered down version of Laphroaig, it is like Laphroaig’s perfect wee cousin. So you have the feeling of Laphroaig – the peat, the ozone, the sweetness, the golden flicks, but you won’t feel overwhelmed with Laphroaig strength of character. This is bourbon based again, so this is peat and vanilla and toffee and honey. Where as the Bruichladdich has no peat, and the Bunnahabhain is very sherry influenced. About £34

4: Ardbeg Dark Cove ~ A lovely fashionable dram. This is peated and dark sherry influenced. So think of sweet & bitter dark chocolate with a smokey influence. This dram is heavier in a way than the Laphroaig Select. But, not as richly heavy in the mouth as the Bunnahabhain. About £100.

5: Leaving Islay you could try Wolfburn, from the very North of Scotland ~ from where you get the ferry to Orkney, near Thurso. This is a lovely dram ~ clean, fresh, sparkling, apricots, green bushes. An open whisky, reminds me of sweeties – cider apples, young, fresh, sappy, milky, lovely mouthfeel. Some of this dram has been stored in casks which previously held the Laphroaig whisky, so there is a hint of the peat from our dram.   They now have a new bottling out called Aurora which you could try and get a hold of.


  Trying a dram for the first time, remember to approach it slowly. Look at it, appreciate the colour, see if it looks oily or dry in the glass. Is it gold or reddish in colour?  If it is pale gold it is probably bourbon based ~ this just means the spirit is aged in casks that previously held bourbon. If it is reddish it probably has been sleeping for a while, in casks that previously held sherry .

Smell the top notes coming off your whisky as you raise it to your lips. Smell with your lips shut, then open your mouth as you smell again. Think about walking down a street with all the different shops ~ bakers, flower shop, fruit shop, pastry shop, leather shoe shop… imagine all the smells you would get from each shop. Then see if you can find them in your glass. Go on a journey. Use your imagination. Only after nosing your dram will you take a good sip. Roll it back along your tongue and swish it around to get the most out of the flavours. Hold the dram in your mouth for a second for each year old the dram is before you swallow (roughly!) Then swallow.

Feel the dram flow down your throat and into your chest. Enjoy everything about this experience!



In truth EVERY dram is an introductory dram… it just depends on your preference for certain flavours – your preferred FLAVOUR PROFILE… in whisky parlance.   If you like the look of any bottle of single malt you see, just order yourself a dram. And most importantly, this is a hobby – like fiddle playing – that requires LOTS OF PRACTISE! (luckily….)

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Feb. 08.


Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) are very pleased to be heading to Alkmaar in Holland this week to host 3 Masterclasses at the Hielander Whisky Festival.

Wullie Macmorland, the festival organiser decided to create a specific ‘Girls in Whisky’ focus.

RachelMcNeillGINNYISOBELSo, myself, Isobel Gardiner and Ginny Boswell ~ three ‘red heads’ are offering our festival guests some of the best #Scotch Whisky over the course of nine tastings. 

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) are hosting 3 distinct tastings ~ each one has a different focus ~

‘Peat, Smoke and Both’  will debate the question, can we differentiate between the two?

‘The Independents’ Tasting will showcase whiskies and new make from some of Scotland’s newest distilleries ~ so new, infact, maybe some will not even know they exist!

And last, but certainly not least, ‘Dram Architecture’ Tasting, where we will look at different constructions of drams by comparing and contrasting styles and makeup.

Exciting stuff!

But, most of all it is going to be great to meet old friends, and make new ones ~ already I have an invitation to ‘Pea Soup Lunch’….! 


I would like to thank


The Gaelic Whiskies

KILCHOMAN Distillery

ARRAN Distillery

The GLASGOW Distillery

R & B Distillers & Alasdair Day

Scotch Malt Whisky Society & John McCheyne

for their unstinting support.


See you in Holland

Band of Gold (1024x681) (640x426)

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Jun. 03.


Feis Ile agus Dhiura 2015 ~the busiest we have seen yet!  We had extra open days & nights and millions of events ~ 

Friday ~ SMWS Open Day at Islay House ~ with two new Festival bottles……. one from SMWS and one from Islay House 

SMWS Feis Ile 2015

 And the first time meeting a great gang of Whisky Girls from all over the world!

Festival 2015 5

 Next up, Saturday ~ Lagavulin Day

With the Festival bottle put up on German ebay as soon as money changed hands in Islay ~ and the bottle sold out by Tuesday……..  German ebay ~ the life of high finance on Islay….

Festival 2015 12Festival 2015 7lagavulin-1991-2015-feis-ile-2015

Well, Sunday is just mental ~ It’s Bruichladdich Day!

‘The Boss’ hosts his last Master Class for 500 people (but, let’s hope we see him guest hosting tastings in the future…) ~ and some of the Whisky Girls Gang get our photo taken with him

Bruichladdich McEwanMonday is Caol Ila Day ~ weather is not that great, some people take great photos though, and plenty of great whisky is drunk…..

Festival 2015 0Tuesday is Laphroaig Day ~ weather doubtful ~ 200 Anniversary Birthday cake? splendid ~ secret still in the woods? ~ even MORE splendid!

And at night we had a great #whiskyfabric gathering with more bottles and people than you could shake a stick at…

Festival 2015 9Festival 2015 14Festival 2015 3

Wednesday was Bowmore Day ~ and the rain poured from the Heavens ~ but, then so did the whisky! So, I don’t think people minded too much…. 

Festival 2015 20

and Lucci at Bowmore Hotel stocked up on his festival bottles for us all….

2015 Festival Bottles

Thursday is Kilchoman & Jura Day ~ Kilchoman celebrated their 10 Year Anniversary ~ their first spirit came through on 14 December 2005, but the Visitor Centre was open earlier in that year. Richard Paterson represented Jura well ~ as he always does; with his wit and his cigars and his lovely drams….

Festival 2015 6Festival 2015 18Festival 2015 2Friday is Bunnahabhain Day ~ lovely drams, great music, good craic…..

I arrive just as Islay Bart was leaving…. I told him it was nothing personal…..!

Festival 2015 19

Saturday was Ardbeg Day ~ 200 Anniversary ~ lots going on ~ lovely drams, Arbroath Smokies, people from the future, ice bars, tract Tours and drams from probably the most expensive bottle of the Feis ~ 1815 Ardbeg, a snip at £3,000 ~ Bill only bought two…. and Bino only bought three….!! 

Festival 2015 13Festival 2015 22Festival 2015 21


Thank you to everyone I met who made the week so fantastic. Great new friends and great old friends. We will see you again next year ~ if not before.

And until we meet again ~ 


Thank you to anyone whose photos are here.  I couldn’t find exactly who took which pic, so please accept my inclusive thanks if you recognise your own.

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Jan. 26.

Feis Ile Burns Supper 2015


The Star o Rabbie Burns

 On 25th January,  a Scottish Poet’s birthday is celebrated the world over. A birthday which falls on 25 December is celebrated by a percentage of the world ~ but Rabbie’s birthday is celebrated in every country in the world; by everyone, everywhere. What an achievement. What an Immortal Memory!

The traditional Feis Ile Burns Supper was held in the White Hart Hotel in Port Ellen.

Burns Drams

There was a peat fire roaring in the grate when we arrived, we were welcome with a dram of Lagavulin 16 yo.

The dining room was beautifully decorated with red roses and white heather .

We said the Selkirk Gace before dining ~

Some hae meat and canna eat

And some wad eat that want it

But we hae meat and we can eat

And sae the Lord be thankit

 Dinner was  lovely:  soup was peppery,  mashed potatoes were creamy,  haggis was fresh…..


Our top table, comprising Donald Gillies. Jackie Thomson of Ardbeg fame, our MC Calum Murray formerly of Islay High School, John Campbell Manager of Laphroaig Distillery and John Findlay of Kilbride Farm.

Top Table

Their speeches were brilliant. Donald’s witty, clever homage to Burns and Scotland in The Imortal Memory

John Campbell, entertained us with his Toast to the Lassies.

  Jackie had us roaring with laugher at her truthful, cheeky and very daring Reply from the Lassies

We had more Lagavulin 16 yo, we listened to great singers from all over the island and a young piper from Port Ellen

Piping in the haggisJackie


And then after laughing, eating, drinking, singing,  & enjoying each others company into the wee small hours ~ 

We went home!



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Jan. 23.


Whisky for Girls kicks off our Big Scotland Whisky Adventure on Sunday 8th February 2015.

#BIGSCOTLANDWHISKYADVENTURE is a journey through the land of Scotland visiting ALL the whisky distilleries of the country ~  there are in the region of 100 or so ~ and tasting the beautiful UISGE BEATHA (whisky) for which  Scotland is justifiably famous.

Whisky Map

We will be away from Islay for as long as it takes…. There is no hard and fast organised schedule. Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) will wander through the beautiful country of Scotland.

We will enjoy the scenery, the people, the atmosphere, the wildlife, the public transport, the weather ~ but most of all, we will enjoy exploring the world of whisky that is Scotland.

We will experience the land of Scotland which makes the Whisky of Scotland and endeavour to share this with you.



@WildandMagic on Twitter


Whisky for Girls on facebook


Whisky for Girls (& Guys!)


wonderful whisky map of Scotland by 



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Dec. 13.

I AM WHAT I DRINK ~ whisky day

On Friday I went to Whisky Day 2014  in Tel Aviv, well organised by Amit Cohen and his friend. It was held in REAL TIME which is a Bar Tending School. They run beer, cocktail and whisky courses.  It is a great venue with lots of different bar areas. A painted purple entrance and a long wide slope down feel cool and urban.  Mellow, chilled music made a lazy Sunday afternoon pub feel; I loved it. 

Whisky Day Tel AvivVenueAmit Cohen

The stands are hosted by distributers,  so you see Bowmore, Auchentoshan & perhaps Balvennie on the same space. There were numerous Bourbon stands and I tried The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey.

Between us, my friend Ofir Mitrani and I tried Scapa, Bowmore Darkest and Small Batch. Talisker Storm, The Ileach ~ packaging as elegant as Bowmore, funny taste ~ lots of different flavours not meshed together, but distinct. I liked it. Also, I like the Talisker Storm. 

Peach Dog

There was maybe 40% attendance from women, which I thought good.  Albeit many of them were more interested in the Cocktail Making Master Classes! I met an interesting whisky loving girl called Tsippi Zinger with her accessory dog PEACH.  And she told me she had been drinking whisky since she was 12 ~ which greatly  impressed me…….


Keren Heduat and InBal Jenny Klein were tasting  Auchentoshan, and Tal Rippa, the barman at the Talisker bar was advertising his drams by showing us how much he enjoyed drinking them himself….

I was pleased to meet Gal Granov of and meet again, the glamorous Shachaf Koren, who very kindly organised for us to be guests at the event.

Me. Gal & my pal

We saw lampshades made from bottles, Ofir nearly gave us a tune on the box, then we  went for a tasting on the Jamiesons Whiskey bus ~ which is a great concept, but, would benefit greatly from having a characterful Irish girl as host….

Whiskey busBottle lights

Ofir (2)

And from all this, I learned a very important biological and psychological fact

Nothing but the best

which is why I drink SCOTTISH MALT WHISKY all over the world.


Thank you to all my old and new whisky friends in Tel Aviv.

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Dec. 08.

SANTA’S SEASONAL EXPLOITS revealed to Whisky for Girls….

 After scoffing a bottle of Caol Ila Cask Strength, Santa shows Whisky for Girls his lascivious side……!

Whisky Drinking Santa

What do you do on the other nights of the year?

Well believe it or not I’m actually very busy all year round. Everything that happens on Christmas Eve and Christmas day takes a lot of planning. This being the modern world things have changed a lot and I now have a few part–time consultancy jobs with the likes of Fed-Ex, DHL and Parcel force. It’s of benefit to all parties and as the work load increases, we (North Pole Enterprises) sub-contract to many of the big name carriers. But that’s mainly day work. Nights are more “Me time” …..

Mmm… I really like this Caol Ila, for cask strength it’s very smooth….

Who do you hang out with?

Oh I’ve a few mates. The tooth Fairy, Superman, Jolly Green Giant although I am only just started talking to him again after he stole my “Ho Ho Ho”.  I’m also friendly with Snow White and it’s nice when she visits cos the Dwarfs can go and see the Elves and no doubt have a good moan about us. Humpty Dumpty is also a great laugh and we’ve had some great nights out but he can sometimes go too far. More than once he’s taken a tumble and you’ve probably heard what happens. One minute we’re shouting “Better not climb that wall” next thing you know you can’t move for Kings horses and Kings men. Lot of good they were…   didn’t even have basic first aid. AND they caused mayhem galloping off after the Ambulance on its way to A+E…..

Wonder how much this is a bottle? It’s very nice once you’ve had a few… these glasses hold more than you think! Ah well it’s nearly Christmas….now where was I…..

Are they whisky drinkers?

Abso-bloody-lutely! Mind you, most of them will drink anything. Snow- white likes Glenfarclas. Dwarves will drink anything as long as it’s a miniature. The rest will have whatever is going free.

When did you first drink whisky? 

All pics 502

Oh It was a very long time ago. Before the days of the exciseman. Bloody tax………..

What is your preferred style of whisky?

Oh I like all whisky but I suppose if I were pushed it would have to be a good Islay Single Malt. Just like this Caol Ila I have here. I may as well finish the bottle now, no sense in leaving a wee dribble in the bottom…… no use to man nor beast

How often do you drink whisky?

Oh not that often maybe 3 or 4 times a day………  And a few in the evening………

Who introduced you to whisky?

Oh that would be my old mate Jack Frost. I remember him saying “Here try some of this Nick, this will warm you up” and you know he was right!

Do women drink much whisky where you are?

Well you’re asking the wrong man here. You see there are not really a lot of women here. Only Mrs Clause. She says she enjoys a wee one but if that’s true, why did she marry me!!!!!!! Oh I forgot the tooth fairy. How could I forget the tooth fairy? She’s quite well off you know. You think only a pound here and a dollar there but it’s all cash! Bet she doesn’t declare half of it.

Tooth Fairy

How do you think whisky has changed over all the time you have been drinking it?

Too much choice now. And it’s too expensive… bloody taxman. The tooth fairy has the right idea. And another thing, far too many expressions only aimed at the collectors. Whisky is for drinking and sharing not gathering dust on a shelf. Talking of which I may need to see what’s open in the cupboard……….

What do you think of the New World whiskies?

Well what can you say. It’s ok…. No that’s not fair some of it is actually very good. You must remember it’s all “still” a bit new to them…… get it…still??

Can we expect to see more whisky given as presents at Christmas?

I hope so…. To me it’s the perfect gift. If you get a bottle you like then throw the cork in the fire and get wired in. If it’s one you’re not that keen on then just say “ Wow, this is too good to drink now, this is one for my special collection” Smiles all round…………………………………………………………..

Ah haaaa  Lagavulin 16yr old and it’s half full!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…………………………..

Lagavulin 31-1-12 053 (2)

What advice do you have for people who want to learn about whisky?

Get yourselves over to Islay. It’s the place to see how it’s done properly and the people are very friendly. I visit there a lot (in disguise of course). I normally have a shave in January so that makes it easier. I get the ferry over cos I’m fed up flying. I park the sleigh at Kennacraig Ferry Terminal on the mainland and leave the reindeer in the field across the road.

Why did you chose red for your suit?

Sponsorship!!!! Done a deal with Coke years ago and we’ve been raking it in ever since!

Who looks after the reindeer when they are at home?

Well to be honest they are only leased. So we just hand them back to the Sami and we don’t see them again until we need them. Tax deductible! Our accountant is very good at that sort of thing! He also attends to the Tooth Fairy’s business affairs so enough said!!!!!!

Are you a party man?

HELL YEAH…. Or at least I was when I was younger. Once you get over a hundred you do need to slow down a bit. I love going out on Halloween. We all do cos we can be ourselves. I can really let my beard down. This Lagavulin is just the dog’s………………… I might go out when I finish this………. Bound to be somewhere still open ………………… wonder if the tooth fairy is out????????????????

 Will you ever retire?

I could have retired around 50 years ago but what’s the point. For all the pension is I don’t think I could survive. I could always get a part time Christmas job in John Lewis’s as myself!!!!!!!!! How mental would that be………. Right I’m going to text the TF!!!!!!!!!!

Do you take on apprentices?

Yes. It’s very important to keep the old crafts and skills going for the future generations and their little ones. We also get paid by a Scottish government scheme which helps………… Ok text sent!!

What does Ho mean, and why do you shout it ?

It means the TF has texted back  HoHoHoHoHo… “im up 4 it if u r big boy xx lol ”

Now. I need to get out without Mrs C hearing me….. not easy when you’re pissed!

What if people don’t have a chimney ~ how do you get down the chimney?

Santas Key

No chimney no problem. We’ll always find a way in but I can’t tell you how. At the moment getting out is the problem….

Are people still as kind as they were when I was wee and leave out shortbread and a dram for you, and carrots and water for the reindeer?

Yes very kind. More Blue WKD and muffins nowadays but wten you’re out on Christmas night anything will do. Of course I don’t drive/fly myself. We have a designated Elf. Not bothered about the reindeer as they are only leased. Did I tell you that? ……………… Tried standing up there, not good. Bloody cask strength. I’m going to have to text TF back…. Sorry No can do…. OR should that be Knockando?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do you get it ……? no can do…… ? ah, please yourselves.

What will you put in my stocking this year?

Ah stockings…. Two of my favourite things…… I bet the TF wears stockings. Humpty  says she does. He got a flash of her sussies one night when he fell off that bloody wall. He says it was worth it for that alone………..

You are an advocate for eco and tradition ~ still using reindeer and sleigh, not a MAN truck for example ~ do you think this is the best way to stop global warming and the desecration of the planet, because if not, you won’t have a home?

Santa's sleigh

 Yes I do. Even the reindeer have been modified to be more eco friendly. More streamline antlers, alloy hooves and lighter carbon fibre harness mean they can now do over 55 chimneys to the carrot. I’m finding it difficult to type now. I’m on one knee with only my chin on the desk holding me up…… bloody cask strength…….. problems focussing on the screen. Bloody TF has not texted back…. Bet you she’s met the Jolly Green Giant… Ho ho bloody ho    ’;lopkkm………….,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,l=_>>> sorry about that chin slipped and my beard caught on the keyboard!

Will we see you next year?

Feeling ill now. What’s the question… Will we see you next year? Might not see me this bloody year……… Only joking but I do really need to go to bed now. I must try not to wake up Mrs C…. she’s great you know…one in a million, I’m a lucky man.

Ho Ho Ho, 

Merry Christmas to One and All

Bad Santa


Thank you, Santa, for that revealing glimpse into your seasonal life


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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Nov. 12.


Malt is MusicBarenboim

 Listening to  recordings of  Daniel Barenboim, the Argentine born, Israeli pianist and conductor giving the Reith Lectures in 2006, I was reminded of how classical music and whisky resemble one another, both in their construction and in our relationship with, and to, each.

 Whisky and music both have notes ~ whisky has flavour notes and music has sounds notes, and both are experienced over an organised period of time.

 Both experiences involve the active participation of the ‘consumer’ ~  absorbing  music into ones body as sound vibrations penetrate the ear, and  absorbing whisky into the body as  tiny vibrating particles of matter ~ liquid molecules,  penetrate the mouth and aroma compounds penetrate the nose.

 Both experiences are extremely subjective as we bring our personal associations to each. We experience the true substance and simultaneously we experience our subjective experience of it.

 Both have past, present and future having being build on what went before, engaging with what just precedes the experience. In music it can be the silence before the first note and with whisky it can be the very air around one ~ whither inside or out. Both experiences are built on the skills and experiences of the past ~ building up the physical quality of the musical instrument, building up the quality of the fermentation and so on, learning from experience how to improve.

 Both experiences are vertical as well as horizontal as both build on the memory of what has gone before, ones association with  piece of music or a dram. Where one heard the music, where one tasted the whisky.  Both evoke memory. Both  stimulate emotion. And,  this is an interesting point ~ can whisky and music evoke emotion? Or do they stimulate latent emotion we already have?

 Both classical music and malt whisky used to be just ‘part of life’ and  now are regarded as ‘experiences’ ~  that mainly only the monied can afford.

 Ones enjoyment and appreciation of both whisky and music grow in relation to the more one knows about them. For example, having tried many whiskies and being aware of the ‘journey’ of the dram, one is more able to separate ones sensations upon drinking the whisky and therefore be aware of the physical construct of the dram. One can comprehend the experience of the dram in a  way that is already familiar.  It is the same with music. If one understands or knows the construction of the piece of music or is familiar with a style of music, one has greater awareness and is better able to ‘map’ ones experience  and hopefully relate more fully to it.

 Melody and harmony in music create a specific kind of tension. This can be found in the creation of whisky ~ there must be a balance between the notes, strengths and power of the new make spirit with the maturation. The tensions when balanced are what create a wonderful dram, and a wonderful experience of music. The magic of the universe is such, that,  if the notes and movements are right, the energy flows naturally and something greater than the sum of it’s parts is birthed.

 Mr Barenboim says the lesson to take from music is that life must combine transparency, power and strength.  All notes must be played at their power, but to form a great chord sound the various players must be heard together,  in a dynamic tension that holds all sounds as equal. This creates great strength of sound. If this does not occur, you have great power from one section  overwhelming another so there is no tension, and therefore no strength. Music will be totally uninteresting without this ~  it is the same with whisky. If the notes of peat, or cereal or vanillin are too powerful and overwhelm the other flavour notes, you have a heavy, flat whisky . If it does not allow the other notes to be heard it has no strength, only power ~ and this does not express the totality of of a great whisky.

 Music shows the inevitable flow of life, as does whisky, both are experienced in a linear fashion albeit both vertically and horizontally.  The experience of both is constant change. One cannot hold the sound or the taste any longer than it is meant to be held. This is like life ~ no matter how we wish for something to last longer or to hurry and pass, it will take as long as it takes!


And thank you to Daniel Barenboim for sharing his wisdom in the great Reith Lectures.

Bruichladdich Nostalgia BAROLO 017






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Nov. 01.

First Whisky & Rum Festival in Graz, Austria

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) island whisky tasting ~ 

On Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 October 2013, Graz city in Austria was host to the first Whisky & Rum Festival. Presented by Dr. Bottle Scaria with assistance from The Islay Whisky Chapter Austria and various esteemed organisations.

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) were invited to host a Whisky Tasting of Islay/island malts. Ostensibly the event was for women, but  guys were welcome, too!

How cool is this!!Getting ready to DRAM with Whisky for Girls (& Guys!0Islay Whisky Chapter & WfG

We had a selection of 6 drams ~

In order of tasting ~

KILCHOMAN 100 % ISLAY 3 rd edition ~ 50% abv. Vatting of 4 & 5 yo, 20-25 ppm, light, citrus with long peaty finish. Matured in Bourbon barrels. Fresh, young, strong, well balanced open dram. Peat finish carries the freshness.

Thanks to Arran Distillery for the ARRAN 10 yo ~ 46% abv, unpeated, citrus notes ~ orange, cinnamon, peppery sparkle. The water for the distillery comes through red granite.  This is a smooth, fluffy mouthfeel with light, sparkly kick.  Nice orange oiliness and a dryness give this dram a balance with the lightness.

BUNNAHABHAIN 18 yo ~ 46.3% abv, A voluptuous dram.  Rich, silky, sweet honied dram. Sweetly nutty, slight salt tang, sherry notes of raisins, then toffee, a bit spicey and dryly woody with a sweet sherry finish. A lovely warm rolling dram.

ARBEG CORRYVRECKAN ~ 57.1% abv. 50 ppm. Rich, heavy, peaty dram ~ tarry notes, bit of chocolate, creosote, brown sugar. Very fruity and rich with the power of the peat and the tar to balance it. Matured in American and French oak casks.  Also, as this dram is cask strength the alcohol level is carried by the power of the flavours. A smokey length with salt and a hint of blueberries coming in from the side. 


LAPHROAIG 10 yo CASK STRENGTH Batch 005 ~ Thanks to Laphroaig Distillery for giving us this dram to taste ~ 57.2% abv, this lovely, heavy, oily, peaty, fruity, sparkling dram carries the cask strength beautifully. Salty, seaweed with peat and rich warm fruity notes and flavours. A lovely rolling dram of Islay’s shores. A long smokey rich finish.

BOWMORE DARKEST 15 yo ~ 43% abv, the lowest alcohol by volume of the tasting ~ 12 years in Bourbon casks then 3 years in Oloroso sherry casks give this dram a sweet, raisins & chocolate taste balanced by the signature Bowmore smoke. This has a long finish and is a lighter but still robust dram. This is the material equivalent of  patterned velvet to the  brocade of the Laphroaig.

We tasted the drams without water, with water, and then, with chocolate ~ just delicious!

This is the first festival of it’s kind held in Graz. And it was very successful ~ we were even on the Austrian TV news!

There were chocolate makers, kilt makers, whisky makers, cigar makers ~ I liked this festival as it was pro active ~ there were many people here who produce their own product, not just selling something that others had made. Also, there were singers, dancers and pipers ~ 

One of the pipers is a lady called Romana Brunner.

Pipers at Graz

She is the Pipe Major of the Carinthian Pipes & Drums. Romana is a music teacher and in 2009 she travelled to Uist in the Western Isles,  and lived there for a year, being taught to play the pipes by Iain McDonald.  Iain McDonald and his brothers were good friends of the late A.S. Macneill, who helped found the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, Scotland ; ~  and A.S. Macneill is my uncle from Oransay ~ how cool is that?

Never mind seven degrees of separation between each of us in the world ~ in the Scottish/Piping/Whisky world it is reduced to TWO degrees of separation between us!


Thank you to Manfred Wizsy of Islay Whisky Chapter for arranging for Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) to come to Austria. We had a wonderful time, met some wonderful people, heard some wonderful singing & music ~  and drank some wonderful whisky ~ we will return……


Me and the Austrian Team!

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) and the Austrian Team

Best sign of the day!

Best sign of the day!


Hand drawn schematic of whisky making process for guests at Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) tasting…..

Black Bottle New

Supporting the new Black Bottle

Haggis on the menu

Haggis on the menu for the festival

Musicians at Graz

The Austrian band who sounded Celtic…

Myself and Mario

Myself and Mario from The Pot Still, and Alexander.

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Oct. 18.


On Tuesday 15 October 2013 Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) hosted a great whisky tasting evening on the Isle of Colonsay as part of the Connect with Colonsay Autumn Festival.

We had a great selection of drams ~

Line Up for Colonsay

And a great selection of guests ~ from a famous Scottish artist to a minister, to a headmistress who wasn’t previously a whisky drinker ~ but she is now!

We kicked off the tasting with a quick run through of the whisky making process ~ barley growing, germination, kilning, milling, mashing, fermentation, distilling, maturation & bottling!

Then onto the drams…………….

Our 5 lovely drams were, in order of tasting:

An Turas Mor ~ The Long Journey/The Big Journey/The Adventure ~  A peated expression from Bruichladdich, so comes under the Port Charlotte umbrella. 46% abv, 40 ppm. A multi vintage of 2002/3/4/5 and is really lovely. A very under rated dram. It is pale gold, honey fresh and sharp with rich fast legs. It tastes of the salty sea, with a hint of melon. Underneath is a tarry layer. One could say it has a coastal nose. It is lemony and creamy vanilla. There are hints of heather, with cloves and a smokey, peaty layer. There is an underlying oakeyness ~ with a slither of coconut coming in from the side.

It has a lovely round mouthfeel, not too silky. A nice round, warm swallow. Not acrid at all. There is a hint of smoke at the end. It has a long finish, which is shortened by water. It comes out of first fill American oak casks.

Jura 10 year oldJura for Colonsay (640x640) (640x640) thank you to Jura Distillery for supporting our whisky tasting by providing us with this lovely dram. The Jura 10 yo is 40% abv, unpeated.  It is very pale, antique gold.   It is sweet, with hints of honeycomb and fruitcake, with a light underlying freshness. There are hints of pears and cloves, with violets on the top and layers of grass and hay underneath. It is light bodied with a slight drying saltiness. A malty, nutty finish. Some get a sweetness and a spice finish.   It has thin long fast legs. A smooth, silky mouthfeel. There is a faint polish smell, a hint of melon. The finish falls away and there is a feeling of a light, fluffy pillow of  flavours in the middle.

Our next dram was

Laphroaig for Colonsay (336x640)Laphroaig Triple Wood ~thank you to Laphroaig Distillery for supporting our whisky tasting by supplying this complex Laphroaig dram for us.This dram is 48% abv and non chill filtered. It is first aged in Bourbon barrels and selected between 5-13 years. This gives the peaty dram of Laphroaig a vanilla  sweetness. The liquid is then put into small volume casks called quarter casks for 9 months. This allows the liquid to have a greater contact with the oak as the casks only hold about 50 litres. The spirit matures very quickly in the quarter casks. This interaction with the wood makes an oily, drier, creamy  spirit. Then the whisky is put into large European Oloroso sherry casks from Herez in Spain. The liquid is split and some goes into 1st fill sherry butts for 9 months and the rest into refill sherry butts for 21-24 months.    So, from this we have the big body of the peated, iodine flavour Laphroaig, tempered with creamy dryness of oak and  sweetened with sherry casks. This is an unusual, multilayer Laphroaig dram. It has a big nose, with sweet sherry, orange; and, an oakiness that reminds one of Chardonnay wine. It is spicey and salty and when water is added it mixes well and changes quite a bit. Instead of having layers of flavour they all blend together.

Next up was the Isle of Colonsay‘s own dram. Which is a 12 yo Bruichladdich,  It was distilled in 1994 and is 46% abv. It comes out of a bourbon cask, but has a pinkish tint which reminds me of Robin Laing’s whisky which was given to him by Mr Jim McEwan. This pinkinsh tint in whisky is made by a compound called furfural.

This is a dryish, strong clean dram, not as complex as some of the others, but an honest, straightforward dram.

To round off our delicious selection we had  the smokey, smooth Lagavulin 16 yo. This dram is 43% abv with 35 ppm. It has a rich, chewy, oily texture. Deep peat, thick smoke, iodine, brine, charcoal and seaweed. With a hint of Earl grey tea. This  earl grey note can be attributed to Guaiacol which is a base of eugenol and vanillan and comes as a result of wood charring. It is from wood creosote. It can be nosed at 0.1 ppm.

There are also hints of  vanilla and light caramel. There are subtle citrus fruits. It is salty and very dry, but with a fruit and sherry underneath. The heart of the spirit cut of Lagavulin takes 5 hours to run. It is distilled at very low tempeartures, it has the slowest distillation in Islay.

It has a long lingering smoke finish. The 16 yo maintains its constant deep colour with the help of caramel and it is chill filtered. This is a constantly maintained enduring dram.


After we finished our tasting, I told the guests it was bad luck to take any whisky back to Islay ~ so they were just to help themselves to whichever drams they wanted ~ this superstition proved very popular…..!!

Thank you to all the lovely guests who made this a very interesting and stimulating tasting.

  Thank you, also, to Gavin of Colonsay Pantry and Sarah of Connect with Colonsay Festival for their help and humour!

Colonsay Whisky Tasting

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) look forward to our next whisky tasting ~


If you would like Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) to host a whisky tasting evening or event for you, please get in touch with me 

I look forward to hearing from you 

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